Posted by Stuart Walters on September 10, 2020
Growing concerns about privacy have set in motion a series of changes that will reshape the digital marketing industry for years to come. This blog post is a summary of Google’s The marketer’s playbook for navigating today’s privacy environment which you can read and download from their website.
Among the most notable of these is people’s growing concern over how data is collected, used and shared online. In fact, searches for “online privacy” have grown globally by more than 50% year over year.
Governments around the world have passed new privacy regulations and expanded existing laws. Technology platforms such as browsers and mobile operating systems have announced or implemented new policies that restrict commonly used identifiers.
What you can do to respond
Build direct relationships with your customers.
Despite changing business conditions and evolving user expectations, you still need to find and connect with your customers. As users continue to embrace new devices and technologies, there are arguably more opportunities than ever before to form meaningful relationships with customers, and to do so in a way that does not compromise on trust.
Let’s look at ways to:
Establish a direct connection with your audience
When people interact directly with your business - by visiting your website, using your app, making a phone call to your business, or purchasing from one of your stores - it provides an opportunity to learn more about who they are and how you can address their needs.
The information that is collected from customers in these direct interactions is called first-party data. It is particularly valuable because it is unique to your business and the relationship you have with your customers. That’s why it’s important that you have the tools - and permission when required - to collect first-party data wherever those direct interactions might take place.
You should invest in a comprehensive first-party measurement solution, where cookies are set only when someone has contact with your site. Google’s global site tag and Google Tag Manager offer this capability for example.
Have a mobile app? Incorporate a software development kit (SDK) that’s designed to help you gather information from the actions people take when they download and engage with your app.
Invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to help you capture and organise the information that’s shared by people during interactions with your business in the offline world. You can link this offline data with your advertising and measurement tools. Here at AAI, we recommend HubSpot Free.
Deepen your relationships with customers
Once you’ve established a connection with your audience, you should find ways to learn more about them so that you can strengthen those relationships. Customers will feel more comfortable sharing information with you that will help you serve them better, if they see that they’re getting value in return.
Work with partners who also put users first
Another responsibility you have to your customers involves being thoughtful about the business partners you work with. Choose partners that also prioritise user privacy, and recognise how to earn and keep people’s trust.
With so many different privacy regulations being introduced around the world, you’ll want to make sure their practices comply with all applicable laws for collecting, using and sharing data.
Even setting aside the potential legal ramifications, it’s important that you consider whether the practices of a business partner or vendor align with your values.
Be flexible with how you reach audiences and measure results
Developing a strategy to build stronger customer relationships is fundamental, but these days, marketers must also consider a number of additional factors - such as privacy laws, GDPR, platform constraints and people’s individual expectations before making decisions for how best to engage audiences, and measure what happens.
Let’s discover how you can:
Consider different ways of using first-party data
As you build relationships with your customers, you can analyse the data that’s collected during your interactions so that you can understand them better, including the types of ads and experiences that they’d find meaningful.
For example, how people interact with your website or app can offer clues as to what their interests and preferences might be.
Another way you can use first-party data to engage customers is by working with partners who also have a relationship with the same customers. For example, when there’s a group of people who’ve given both your business and Google the same contact information, Customer Match can help you reach the users you have in common.
If you upload a data file (Encrypted of course) of contact information, such as the email addresses or phone numbers your customers have given you, Google can then provide opportunities to reach those people when they’re engaging Google’s services or browsing the web — all while protecting the confidentiality and security of your customer data in the process. You can also do this with Facebook and many other social media websites too.
Learn more about your audience from the partners you work with
By working with the right media and content partners, you can find other meaningful ways of using first-party data to reach the audiences you care about. Perhaps you’ve identified a valuable group of customers and the partner has content that’s particularly interesting to them. If the partner offers an opportunity to advertise on its content, work with the partner to determine the most relevant message to send.
Find options to engage your audience when personalisation is limited
You usually want to deliver the most appropriate message possible when they connect with audiences. For instance, when users are open to seeing personalised ads, you can tailor your ad for the audience. But when you cannot personalise ads for users – because they haven’t consented or cookies are blocked – pay attention to the context of the ad instead, such as the content on the web page or site where the ad will appear.
These days, marketers also have greater access to new technologies, such as machine learning, to improve how ads can be matched with the most relevant context.
It’s good practice to keep track of how often you’ve shown people an ad so that you can avoid bothering them repeatedly and creating frustration with your brand. But managing the frequency of your display ads across websites has traditionally depended on the use of a third-party cookie. By comparison, counting the ad impressions that happen on a single website can be just as helpful for managing your ad frequency. For instance, when third-party cookies are blocked, you can rely on a first-party cookie to keep track of your ad impressions instead.
Rely on privacy-forward methods to fill measurement gaps
One of the benefits of digital marketing is the ability to learn what happens after people interact with your ads. But when it’s harder to observe conversions directly, either because of cross-device measurement challenges, browser restrictions or people’s consent choices, you need to rely on other methods to fill the gaps in your reporting.
Let’s take browser restrictions, for example. You can still get reliable reporting through Google’s conversion tracking for your advertising campaigns, even when direct conversion measurement isn’t possible. Say that a cookie isn’t present for you to be able to attribute a conversion that happened as the result of a user interacting with an ad on a particular browser.
By analysing patterns from past conversion data, including the performance of your ads on other browsers, where direct tracking is possible, a model can be created to confidently predict how people will respond to your ads when direct measurement is blocked. That way, you can still report on conversion activity in a privacy-centric way when cookies have been blocked.
Manage data and discover insights in a privacy-centric way
Once you’ve built strong direct relationships with users and planned for scenarios where you’ll need to be flexible with how you engage your audience, consider investing in cloud technology to organise and activate the data collected during all those interactions.
Bring all your data into a secure location to uncover insights
First-party data can come from customer interactions spread across your advertising campaigns, websites, apps and physical locations. Brands can gain a better understanding of their customers and how to serve them more effectively when they bring all this information together and analyse it for insights. Cloud-based solutions are increasingly being used by marketers to manage data while protecting user privacy. That’s because cloud technology offers inherent privacy and security advantages when it comes to storing and organising large data sets, such as encrypting all data by default and setting parameters for who has access to that data. In addition to these benefits, cloud solutions also open up other, more advanced ways for you to examine data, uncover new insights, and act on them by integrating with your marketing tools.
Make better decisions by predicting the outcomes of your marketing
When you’ve merged data into a cloud-based data warehouse, a data analyst can help you do more advanced analysis on the data. For example, they can train machine learning models using historical customer information to predict or anticipate the outcomes of future interactions with your customers. This can help you to make better decisions, such as who to reach and how much to spend, based on their likelihood to respond.
Analyse detailed campaign data while protecting user privacy
Because cloud technology has inherent advantages when it comes to managing user privacy and security, it’s the ideal platform for data clean rooms, where media providers can provide access to detailed, event-level data that lets advertisers analyse campaign results in a way that doesn’t compromise user privacy.
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